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Thought for the Day: Shimon and Dina, ala Gur Aryeh

When I wrote about my understanding of how to appreciate Rashi on Chumash, I mentioned with some astonishment that Shimon (ben Yaakov v'Leah) married Dina (bas Yaakov v'Leah).  Since that was not the main point of that post, I didn't spend any more time on it.  It seems that some of you were also bothered and would appreciate an answer.  The Gur Aryeh (aka Maharal) gives an answer; a nice, straight-forward, simple, short answer.  Well... short like Rashi on the pasuk is short; that is, the answer brings up a lot more questions.  Thankfully, the Maharal addresses (at least in headline form) the questions his answer begs.  I found this Gur Aryeh very interesting also because of the way he approached the issues.  I hope to be exploring the principles and examples that he uses in addressing the Chazal at hand.

The first question he addresses is: Why Shimon?  Shimon is particularly suited to Dina because both of them are rooted in din (strict judgement).  We see this reflected in Yaakov's bracha to Shimon and Leivi, noting that they were the ones who brought both Sh'chem and Yosef to judgement (49:5,6, Rashi there).  Moreover, their anger is from Eisav's bracha and Eisav mida is also din (Zohar).  (The Maharal does not say why Shimon instead of Leivi.  Perhaps because Sheivet Leivi is associated with avodas hakodesh he has to keep certain chumros.  Similarly, we see that Leivi did not carry Yaakov's coffin (Rashi to 50:13).

After that, the Maharal says, "Of course, you may still have a question of how can a full brother and sister marry."  (I was tickled that this was not the Maharal's first concern.)  On that we are given two complementary explanations.  First, from the Avos till matan torah, the family kept the the entire Torah, but they kept is as geirim who accepted upon themselves the yoke of mitzvos.  Since they were not m'tzuva from birth, their were "k'koton sh'nolad dami" (basically born again) and so the relationships prior to their acceptance were irrelevant as far as the mitzvos of forbidden relationships.  The other factor is that there was just no one else to marry.  Just as the children of Adam were allowed to marry siblings to populate the world, so to the children of Yaakov were permitted to marry siblings to populate the Jewish people.

Why is geirus before and after matan torah different than the geirus that the entire nation experienced at matan torah?  Given that the Avos kept the entire Torah, how do we explain that Yaakov married two sisters, Yehuda fulfilled yibum with his daughter-in-law, Amram married his aunt, etc, etc, etc?  Have patience.


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